Glenwood Student To Study Abroad In South Korea

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By Joe Foreman, Editor

What began as a simple liking of Korean music and culture has evolved into the opportunity of a lifetime for Remily Murphy.


Later this week, the Glenwood Community High School sophomore leaves for South Korea to study abroad as a student in the Youth For Understanding exchange program. She’ll live with a family in the South Korean capital of Seoul and attend a highly-respected all girls school.

“There’s excitement, but also a lot of nervousness as it does become more real,” Remily said.

The South Korean education system is recognized as one of the best in the world and Remily understands the experience will be challenging, language barriers aside.

“They go to school 7-4, then have a mandatory study session and then a tutor until 10 o’clock” she said. “Then you go home and do homework. They also go to school two Saturdays a month.”

The school year in South Korea starts in March.

Her classes will be taught in Korean, a language Remily has been studying and learning to speak for the past two years.

“A couple years ago, I started listening to Korean music and looking into their TV shows and culture,” Remily noted. “I was on YouTube and started listening to Korean songs. I really liked them. Then, I started looking more into the country and its culture. “I started learning the language online using Rosetta Stone and I learned the alphabet online.”

Just as Remily was taking up the language, she was made aware of a church in Omaha that offers Korean language lessons. She’s been taking lessons at the church for about a year and the people she’s met have exposed Remily to Korean culture and food.The church has a food festival twice a year that features authentic Korean food. Remily also has made it a point to dine at Korean restaurants in Omaha, which helped her get a better grasp of the language.

“When we go to restaurants, I have trouble talking to people in Korean, but I can listen and pick up some parts of conversations and pick up what they’re talking about,” she said. “I think I’ll get better at talking because I’ll have to talk when I get there. We’ll see if I’m good enough to talk to someone in Korean.”

Remily already has a favorite Korean food – Ddeokbooki, a popular snack sold by street vendors - made from soft rice cakes and fish cakes and typically seasoned with a spicy chili sauce.Traditional Korean clothing is different than what American teenagers typically wear, but Remily isn’t expecting that aspect of her experience to be much of an adjustment. “I think it’s very different than the way people dress here, but I also dress different than the way people dress here,” she said with a smile. “For me, it won’t be that big of a change because I wear skirts and they have a lot of pleaded skirts they wear with nice shirts.

“I think since I have been studying Korean culture for so long, I’ve kind of molded a little bit to be the same way. I think my clothing and my hair, at least, is very Korean.”

One clothing adjustment Remily will have to make is wearing a uniform to school - a common practice in South Korea.

As for her studies, Remily’s classes will include culture, Korean, English and math. A notable difference from being a student in the U.S. is the type of extra-curricular activities offered at Korean schools.

“Most of the clubs in Korea are academic clubs – math clubs, literature clubs, philosophy clubs,” Remily said. “Not sports.”

Remily admits that she and her family have been paying close attention to the political climate in both South Korea and North Korea.

“We have waited for North Korea to calm down before I went over there,” she said. “I think at this point South Korea and North Korea just having a summit is probably as good as it’s going to get for awhile.”

Remily said she’s received advice and direction from GCHS teacher and librarian Karen Barrett, who has hosted several exchange students, including 2018 GCHS graduate Yukina Hamagawa of Japan. Barrett said Remily is the third GCHS student to study abroad in the past five years.

Remily will be blogging about her experiences while living in South Korea. The online address to view her blog is www.remilywr.wixsite.com/worldround.

After her study abroad, Remily will return to Glenwood next winter in time to complete the second half of her junior year. Her long-term aspirations might take her back to South Korea some day.

“In the long run, I want to become a South Korean diplomat,” she said. “I want to work in foreign service for America.”